Robototic Futures

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So I’ve been wanting to get this post out for a few weeks now and has been on my mind for a while, though there’s not much point to it except to wonder at the crazy technology of robots and machines that are coming out around us.

In the fictional world of The Matrix, the machines rise to self awareness is mentioned in the Animated short film in the Animatrix, The Second Renaissance. In the story a machine called B1-66ER is to be deactivated by it’s owners but of course a robot with artificial intellegence is not going to shut down easily and in a brutal act of self defense B1-66ER kills it’s masters, his two dogs and another dude called Martin Koots. This future tales of robots killing and trying to take over the world has been good fuel for many science fiction, comics, films, cartoons and stories across the world and with the fast paced world of technology we now live in and with things like nano-technology and the advancements in robotics and AI, it’s easy to see how creative imaginations always make the robots the antagonists.

We are circled by CCTV camera’s everywhere that all use complex systems to track, analyses and recognise different types of objects, people and more recently faces. I found Filmamaker Timo Arnall’s work really interesting into litrally giving an insight into how robots and machines ‘see’. His video below explores how the robots perceive and make sense of  the world. The Wired magazine online has a host of great articles about future bots, check it out at http://www.wired.co.uk/topics/robots.

Wanted to leave you with what really does look like a half-ready B1-66ER. This one eye’d fellow is bought to ‘life’ at the University of Sussex, UK and according to Professor Owen Holland it brings us closer to ‘true’  artificial intelligence. The anthropomimetic robot,  has joints, bones, muscles and tendons…Johnny 5 eat your tin out!

You can catch the full documentary on BBC’s iPlayer website (UK only) or check youtube which also has the full show, search for Horizon: The Hunt for AI.

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Accessible Technology

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“We live in a society absolutely dependent on science and technology and yet have cleverly arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. That’s a clear prescription for disaster.” – Late Great Carl Sagan

Exciting times lay ahead for technology and it’s going to be equally interesting to see some of the products that will be spawned from the likes of nano tech and quantum computing. Already the online world with the help of social apps and websites is creating an always online culture always wanting real time news or live information and as the information gets better and easily accessable we will naturally want these applications to do more and more, all the while keeping in mind the aesthetics of the product, service and tool.

I’ve seen the introduction of the mobile phone since the early 80’s into main stream culture, dials we’re always cool and who remembers this notorious number:

Telephones became Mobile phones, Mobile phones are becoming smartphones and the trend for live information, social apps and this fast food type of looking at information, or viewing it rather, is something that thrills my soul to wonder at the potential designs, interfaces and user interactions, shapes and characteristics of products and so much more that could be designed and worked on in the future. Even simple old TV’s are changing and becoming more online, it’s a fast moving World connecting together a multiple host of personalities and digital persona’s into an almost single online conciousness known as the Internet. However, even within this fantastic bag of binary, we all still want a presence and a sense of belonging.

When I began my Multimedia Design & Technology studies at uni, things seemed very new and fresh back then as many of the lectures didn’t even understand the modules and just seemed to be thrown into the course. It was a new BSc course at the time for the uni and I landed into the it’s second year of inception. However, it was an interesting course that developed my understanding and general workings throughout all types of media from studying the ancient glyphs to writing Java. Most importantly was the work and literature written by Robert S. Tannenbaum and his ideas and insight into the theoretical foundations of multimedia. He made me realise the importance of human-computer interation (HCI) and in later years Apple proved Tannenbaum’s work by showcasing how important information is when viewed in a beautiful and creative way, which engages the viewer while savouring the brands presence.

It feels like a great time to be a media designer especially when conceptualising  and working on technologies that require such an immense level of interaction. I often work on designs for retail kiosks and touch screen GUI’s, an area which again is developing within the retail World in the UK but is getting much more accepted, as my brother mentioned today “the machines are taking over *dun dun dundun dun (*sing terminator theme)”.  Retail kiosk do come with some baggage in that the target audience is there to shop and not stand around the whole day in front of a 17″ screen tapping buttons, instead the information must be clear, concise, easy to understand by a number of people and nationalities/tourists etc while retaining those hard retail brand guidelines. It’s fantastic to be a part of these projects and I can’t wait to see the time when projectors or interactive surfaces become more tuned and accessible, even though MIT Phd Student Pranav Mistry has already shown the World the possiblities of his Sixth Sense invention that can be potentially made on a shoestring budget, but I believe this is the technology that will begin to appear slowly across our many devices in the future, really bridging the digital – natural divide.. An exciting time indeed.

I found an interview from David Deutsch, an award-winning pioneer in the field of quantum computation an interesting read from this month edition of the best online mag around, in style and content, WONDERLANCE!

10 years from now hoverboards will be a true reality and we will be using magnets like Rodin’s coil or some other Mr Fusion to hopefully power our tech resources without undue waste and damage to the planet and environment…I hope.

It’s life Jim, but not as we know it!

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Craig Venter and his team made an announcement this month on their successful attempt to create a first fully functioning, reproducing cell by the use of synthetic DNA. They did it and I’ve since heard all sorts of views on the ethical, social and religious arguments for and against this. Personally, and I’m not a scientist or biologist and not religious (just spiritual) but I think this is a fantastic find as I’m hopeful that this could lead to vaccinations and cures for a whole host of diseases and viruses in the future. Like little Terminators!

He’s managed to create synthetic life and has not actually created life from nothing so I do not see how this can be so ethically bad….yet. I think it is a breakthrough in science and biology but also another small step in understanding the complexities of our life and the universe.

Venter and his team of experts have already fully analyzed and published and Human Genome though I have heard stories that he actually wanted to actually create a patent for it, though failed, and rightly so.

Discussion on this subject is really needed and I hope this doesn’t lead goverments to create dumb ass biological weapons to inslave or control like when they figured out how things work at the sub atomic level which led to devastating consequences.

With Cern trying to find the Higgs Boson and advances like this will surely make us understand life in more detail and answer the universal question of why. A great time to live through these advances for sure.

Sixth Sense is tingling!

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Another interesting video from the TED Talks shows. Pranav Mistry talks about his amazing, inspirational and intuitive invention of the sixth sense device. What’s cheaper to manufacture than a mobile or computer, allows you to take your digital world with you and seemlessly amalgamates our digital and real world together? Well, that would be Pranav Mistry’s most amazing invention, The Sixth Sense device. Sit back for 15 and step into the future!